Design Masterworks 17 November 2016

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Gio Ponti

Rare console from Casa Grangi, Rome

Italy, c. 1940
walnut burl marquetry, brass
59 w x 17½ d x 37¼ h in (150 x 44 x 95 cm)

estimate: $50,000–70,000

Console features two drawers and unique burl walnut veneer on all external surfaces of the design. Sold with a certificate of expertise from the Gio Ponti Archives.

provenance: Casa Grangi, Rome | Private Collection, Italy
literature: Gio Ponti: Interiors Objects Drawings 1920-1976, Falconi, pg. 244 illustrates related form Gio Ponti: The Complete Work 1923-1978, Ponti, pg. 44 illustrates related example

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Variations on a Theme

Consoles by Gio Ponti

In looking at architecture, Gio Ponti often remarked that the past provided the impetus in the evolution of the contemporary aesthetic. Ponti’s insatiable creativity and constant patterns of examination are never more evident than in explorations of individual designs over a number of years or decades. The rich classically motivated forms introduced in the 1920s and 1930s provided a constant source of re-interpretation throughout his expansive career.

Many of Gio Ponti’s most exuberant and noteworthy individual designs were created for private commissions. Beginning in the 1920s, Ponti enjoyed a healthy number of commissions supported by visionary collectors and businesses. These experiences provided both the funding and creative outlet for Ponti’s most inventive designs.

In the mid-1920s, Ponti designed a large scale console table raised on a series of eight delicate legs. The sophisticated and complex form provided a highly tectonic presence, yet the leg structure imparted the table with a relative weightlessness. Separately, the top portion inset with drawers created a wonderfully simple interplay of volume and voids that created a dynamic sculptural statement. This console table became a form that Ponti would continue to explore and modify in a number of different commissions in the 1920s through the 1950s.

Console from Appartamento Schejola, Milan, 1929

The present lot is an early console table featuring a richly detailed burled walnut wood selection. As an architect and designer, Ponti’s forms embodied the era in which he worked. Details such as the tapered leg illustrate the luxurious neo-classical inspiration that dominated Ponti’s earliest designs. Each subtle variation in scale, material and form further developed the elegant expressions within this classically-inspired form.

Console from Villa Arreaza, Caracas, 1954

In 1954, Ponti designed a variant of this console for his celebrated Villa Arreaza commission in Caracas. With this adaptation of the form, the strict classical references are made more subtle by the commanding sleek modern sentiment and coloration.

Each of these consoles remain as icons of the artist’s unique vision within a distinct an era of his design. Born from the tradition of classic design, Ponti elevates the form to a masterpiece through adaption.